Discovering Agatha Christie

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Nope, not in her books, but on TV. If there’s one company that has it, it’s the BBC. All AC’s Hercule Poirot episode from 1989 to 2013, then the Miss Marple series. How could have I missed it! I’m done downloading Season 1 of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and rewarded myself with the first episode this morning:  The Adventure of Clapham Cook and got the taste of what is in store ahead.

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Wiki: Agatha Christie’s Poirot is a British mystery drama television series that aired on ITV from 8 January 1989 to 13 November 2013. David Suchet stars as the eponymous detective, Agatha Christie‘s fictional Hercule Poirot. Initially produced by LWT, the series was later produced by ITV Studios. In the United States, PBS and A&E have aired it as Poirot. At the programme’s conclusion, which finished with Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case, based on the final Poirot novel, every major literary work by Christie that featured the title character had been adapted…

[On the casting]

Suchet was recommended for the part by Christie’s family, who had seen him appear as Blott in the TV adaptation of Tom Sharpe’s Blott on the Landscape. Suchet, a method actor, said that he prepared for the part by reading all the Poirot novels and every short story, and copying out every piece of description about the character. Suchet told Strand Magazine: “What I did was, I had my file on one side of me and a pile of stories on the other side and day after day, week after week, I ploughed through most of Agatha Christie’s novels about Hercule Poirot and wrote down characteristics until I had a file full of documentation of the character. And then it was my business not only to know what he was like, but to gradually become him. I had to become him before we started shooting.” During the filming of the first series, Suchet almost left the production during an argument with a director, insisting that Poirot’s odd mannerisms (in this case, putting a handkerchief down before sitting on a park bench) be featured.

According to many critics and enthusiasts, Suchet’s characterisation is considered to be the most accurate interpretation of all the actors who have played Poirot, and the closest to the character in the books. In 2013, Suchet revealed that Christie’s daughter Rosalind Hicks had told him she was sure Christie would have approved of his performance.

In 2007, Suchet spoke of his desire to film the remaining stories in the canon and hoped to achieve this before his 65th birthday in May 2011. Despite speculation of cancellation early in 2011, it was announced on 14 November 2011 that the remaining books would be adapted into a thirteenth series to be filmed in 2012. The remaining books were finally adapted in 2013 into 5 episodes, from which Curtain aired last on 13 November 2013. A 2013 television special, “Being Poirot”, centered on Suchet’s characterisation and his emotional final episode.

Image result for Agatha Christie's Poirot images[On the critical response]

Agatha Christie’s grandson Mathew has commented, “Personally, I regret very much that she (Agatha Christie) never saw David Suchet. I think that visually he is much the most convincing and perhaps he manages to convey to the viewer just enough of the irritation that we always associate with the perfectionist, to be convincing!”

More recently, the series has been described by some critics as going “off piste”, though not negatively, from its old format. It has been praised for its new writers, more lavish productions and a greater emphasis on the darker psychology of the novels. Significantly, it was noted for Five Little Pigs (adapted by Kevin Elyot) bringing out a homosexual subtext of the novel. Nominations for twenty BAFTAs were received between 1989 and 1991 for series 1–3.

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